Afcon 2017: Cameroon coach Hugo Broos pays tribute to '23 friends'

Cameroon boss Hugo Broos is lifted aloft by his players
Cameroon boss Hugo Broos is lifted aloft by his players

Cameroon coach Hugo Broos revealed he felt his squad were "becoming a family" as they progressed on route to winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

The Indomitable Lions fought back to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final and win the title for the first time in 15 years.

"I don't have 23 players, I have 23 friends," Broos told BBC Sport.

"Over the weeks we went from being a squad to becoming a family. It's unbelievable what all the guys did. It is tremendous."

Mohamed Elneny put Egypt ahead in the final on Sunday but two Cameroon substitutes turned the game around - Nicolas Nkoulou equalised and Vincent Aboubakar struck the winner.

"This was the reason we won the cup, because of the spirit in our camp," Broos added. "The guys who were on the bench were happy - and the players who came off the bench decided the game."

Cameroon's success was achieved despite seven players refusing the call-up to play at the tournament, with the likes of Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip and West Brom full-back Allan Nyom opting to stay with their clubs.

It was suggested by defender Ambroise Oyongo that it served to strengthen the ties between the players who did go to Gabon.

But before the tournament, expectations that Cameroon could win a fifth Nations Cup title were low.

"Our ambition was to finish in the top two in our group, get to the knockout round and see what happened from there," Broos said.

"Then we said to ourselves, 'ok let's see what we can do in the quarter-finals'."

After Cameroon won a penalty shootout to eliminate heavy favourites Senegal in their last-eight match, Broos and his men started to believe they could go all the way.

"We got a real boost of confidence when we beat Senegal," Broos admitted.

"Our confidence showed against Egypt. We were dominated at first but in the second half what my team did, to come back from 1-0 down, it was tremendous."

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